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Breaking News: Maria Shriver endorses Barack Obama

February 3, 2008 |  2:50 pm

Shriver In a dramatic moment at UCLA's Pauley Pavilion, California First Lady Maria Shriver just strode out onto a stage that had already seen its share of celebrities -- Oprah Winfrey and Stevie Wonder among them -- and announced that she was joining the Kennedy half of the family backing Barack Obama, reports our colleague Mark Z. Barabak, who is there.

More details will be posted shortly and in tomorrow's print edition, but Shriver reportedly was waiting backstage wavering over whether she should make her support public, and then finally strode out on stage. Her husband, Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, earlier this week announced his endorsement for Sen. John McCain.

The Kennedy family has split over the two top Democratic contenders, with Ted Kennedy joined by Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg -- daughter of his brother John F. Kennedy -- and his son, U.S. Rep. Patrick Kennedy, all going with Obama. Ethel Kennedy, widow of Robert F. Kennedy, also went with the Illinois senator.

But Hillary Rodham Clinton picked up the support of three of Robert and Ethel's children -- Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, Kerry Kennedy and Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

UPDATE: Shriver told the crowded gym that she had not intended to be at the rally, and had come straight over after going horse riding with her daughter. She joked about her appearance -- riding clothes, sans makeup and without having her hair done -- as she added her pitch for Obama.

"If Barack Obama was a state he'd be California," Shriver said, drawing roars from the crowd. "I mean think about it: diverse, open, smart, independent, oppose tradition, innovative, inspiring, dreamer, leader."

And she touched on the (see more of the blog post below the jump)...

For those of you who missed the C-SPAN coverage, it's here:

themes of optimism and collective action that Obama has sought to build his campaign around.

"He's not about himself. He's about the power of us and what we can do if we come together," Shriver said. "He is about empowering women, African Americans, Latinos, old people, young people. He's about empowering all of us."

Shriver, a former network television journalist, also acknowledged some uncertainty over taking such a public stand. "Sometimes, when you follow your own truth and your own voice, it's scary," she said. "But that's all you can do."

Shriver was on stage with Schlossberg, Winfrey, Michelle Obama and Maria Elena Durazo, executive secretary-treasurer Los Angeles County Federation of Labor. Shriver said she made the decision this morning. "I wasn't on the schedule," she said, "and I thought to myself when I woke up this morning, I thought, there's no other place I should be than right here."

-- Scott Martelle

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